IBM and Google: Replay of IBM and Microsoft?

May 2, 2008

Dan Farber, an outstanding journalist, reported “The IBM-Google Connection”. You need to read this story yourself before it becomes harder to find on the sprawling CNet / Web site. The story describes a burgeoning relationship between the $16 billion Internet advertising company and the $100 billion White Plains, New York, company.

At an IBM Business Partner Leadership Conference in Los Angeles, California, on May 1, 2008, Sam Palmisano (IBM CEO) “chatted” with Eric Schmidt (Google CEO). According to Mr. Farber, the two chief executives touched upon these topics:

  • A joint research project in cloud computing; that’s delivering services and information somewhere on the network, not from software installed on a PC under your desk or from a server room down the hall
  • IBM’s software division and business partners are integrating Google applications and widgets into custom software solutions based on IBM’s “development framework”.

Mr. Farber, with customary acumen, snagged some sound bites; for example: “IBM is one of the key planks of our strategy–otherwise we couldn’t reach enterprise customers,” said Mr. Schmidt.

And, “It is the first time we have taken something from the consumer arena and applied it to the enterprise,” said Mr. Palmisano.

Mr. Farber identifies other areas in which IBM and Google are on the same page, are in sync, and sing from the same hymnal.

A source in Washington, DC, provided me with a copy of a letter sent by IBM to a quasi-government entity in February 2008, in which IBM opines that it understands better than most what Google’s strategy is. I quote from the letter sent in a series of communications to IBM about Google’s ability to morph from friend to competitor with agility. The author of this letter is a senior executive at IBM, and the recipient is a former US government official, now working as a contractor to a branch of the US Federal government:

As a technology and services provider, IBM has relationships with Google that provide us with additional insights into their business. We have studied their technology and actions and, as a result, do not agree with the severity of the threat assessment you [the Washington, DC-based author of earlier communications to IBM] document in your letters. We do not plan to take any additional action at this time.

IBM’s track record with up-and-coming companies has an interesting entry: the deal with Microsoft for an operating system for the personal computer. If Google is the operating system for the cloud, has IBM found a way to remediate its interesting decision in the early 1980s with this Google relationship?

IBM thinks so. Google talks but provides little more than Googley generalizations. Microsoft–the subject of the discourse–isn’t part of the conversation. My hunch is that IBM is certainly confident in its ability to deal with Google. Executive hubris is a constant in some large companies.

I can imagine IBM’s top brass saying, “We have these Google guys right where we want them.”

Stephen Arnold, May 2, 2008

Update: CIO has more on IBM’s plans here. A happy quack to Mr. Arenstein for this link.


4 Responses to “IBM and Google: Replay of IBM and Microsoft?”

  1. IBM: Covering Its Bases : Beyond Search on February 12th, 2009 12:05 am

    […] Jump to the present day. IBM has batted its eyes at Googzilla. IBM and Google have teamed to stimulate the flow of programmers from universities. You can refresh your memory here. In 2008, I received a copy of a letter to an intermediary that said, in part, we understand Googzilla quite well. The outfit interested in this answer was not the addled goose. The interested party was a certain government agency. That outfit was not confident IBM understood Googzilla fully. I wrote about this in a Web log story last year. You can find the article here. […]

  2. IBM Challenges Google by Reacting, Not Leading : Beyond Search on June 25th, 2009 12:02 am

    […] with a statement along the lines that IBM knew in early 2008 what Google was doing. You can read my short write up in which this confidence is discussed. Alex Goldman wrote: Scoring an upset over Google Apps was […]

  3. IBM and Its Deep Understanding of Google : Beyond Search on October 5th, 2009 1:03 am

    […] May 2008, I wrote “IBM and Google: Replay of IBM and Microsoft?” When I wrote that article I had learned that IBM had responded to an inquiry about IBM’s […]

  4. Yuhong Bao on November 7th, 2009 11:51 pm

    I wonder what would happen if Larry and Sergey, with it’s causal dress, participated.

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